2nd Edition published November 2021
Isaac and I is the autobiography of Chris Searle, who braces his own story with the life of his greatest influence, East London poet Isaac Rosenberg. The book tells of East London during the 1970s through the poetry of many of its people, in the spirit of their great predecessors such as Blake and Rosenberg. It is a praisesong to the poetical spirit and talent of people born in ordinary circumstances who, like Rosenberg, through their words create a militant and compassionate beauty from the most unpromising of settings.
“At his best Searle’s compassion, anger and sense of historical morality as a storyteller are reminiscent of the early Gorki. I can see no other writer in Britain with whom to compare him.” John Berger
Chris Searle began his life of teaching in the Caribbean. He returned to work in Stepney, East London, on the very street where Rosenberg had lived. In 1971 Searle was dismissed when he published a book of his students’ poems, Stepney Words, in defiance of the school governing body. The resulting schoolchildren’s strikes and protests, including a march to Trafalgar Square, made national headlines and propelled children’s poetry into the curriculum of many schools in London and beyond. After a two-year battle the dismissal was overturned. During that time he set up a community publishing initiative and a long- lasting inter-generational poetry project in Cable Street. Searle writes on cricket, language, jazz, race and social justice. The Forsaken Lover: White Words and Black People won the Martin Luther King Prize. He has been associated with the Institute of Race Relations since the 1970s and writes a weekly column on jazz for the Morning Star.
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